Monoandry and polyandry in bumble bees (Hymenoptera; Bombinae) as evidenced by highly variable microsatellites


  • This paper is the result of ongoing collaborative work to develop and apply novel molecular approaches to population genetics, ecology and sodobiology studies in two social Hymenoptera, the bumble bee and the honey bee (PhD subject of Arnaud Estoup). Professor Adolf Scholl is studying population biology and one of his main interest sconcerns bumblebee systematics. Andrew Pouvreau is working on intraand interspecific relationships in bumble bee colonies. Michel Solignac is a professor at the University of Paris sudcenhed'Orsay and is the head of a group involved in molecular evolution and insect population biology studies.

Fax +33 169 070421.


Highly variable microsatellites enabled a precise assessment of the number of queen matings in the colonies of five bumble bee species. Fifteen of the sixteen microsatellites initially cloned from B. terrestris had flanking regions similar enough to allow PCR amplification on the other Bombus species analysed. The microsatellites selected for intracolony study (four per species) were characterized by a high heterozygosity (0.58–0.93) and a large number of alleles (3–18) in the local populations from which the colonies originated. A single male appeared to have inseminated the queens in the colonies of four species, B. terrestris, B. lucorum, B. lapidarius and B. pratorum, which belong to three subgenera, whereas two of the three analysed colonies of B. hypnorum were polyandrous (minimum number of two and four patrilines, respectively).